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Arvind Kejriwal began his four-day tour of Punjab Thursday, sent off by protesters in Delhi and greeted by more in Ludhiana.
The protests were mostly against AAP’s silence over allegations of exploitation of women against its leaders. In Delhi, BJP Mahila Morcha in Delhi waved bangles at him. In Ludhiana, Mahila Congress workers waved black flags, Youth Akalai Dal workers hurled bangles at him, while AAP rebels protested against the removal of Sucha Singh Chhotepur as Punjab convener.
Asked about the stings and the allegations, Kejriwal said, “It is the Badals [family of CM Parkash Singh Badal] who are behind these frivolous CDs coming out before elections. I have got to know that Sukhbir Badal has 63 such CDs against us which will come out one by one now. The Badals have hired a company to make such videos against us. It is making two to four such videos a day and these are telecast on their channel, PTC.”
The beginning of Kejriwal’s visit coincided with the launch of a forum, Awaaz-e-Punjab, by Navjot Singh Sidhu, Pargat Singh and others, an event at which Sidhu attacked Kejriwal for the way AAP leaders had allegedly negotiated with him.
With Kejriwal was Aman Arora, a party candidate facing such protests. So were MPs Bhagwant Mann and Sadhu Singh.
“People of Punjab are very intelligent. They have now understood that it is all a dirty gameplan of the Badals. They know who make such CDs and then show it on their own channels,” Kejriwal said. Kejriwal refusing to answer questions about allegations from his own party men about women being exploited for tickets.
To the Badals, he said, “I have arrived. I will put up my tent and stay here and I will stay until I have uprooted the Badals and put them in jail.”
He declared the Punjab polls will not be polls but kraanti (revolution), and said he expects more attacks in the coming days. “We will be attacked. I was attacked last time too when I came to Ludhiana…. It is because the path of honesty is not easy to follow,” he said.
Among promises, Kejriwal discussed his party’s farmers’ manifesto, to be released Sunday. “Once farmers of Punjab were the happiest lot. We will bring that happiness back. We propose to make small farmers debt-free by December 2018. All farmers will get an interest waiver,” he said.
In Delhi, AAP accused Delhi Police of not trying to stop the protests at the railway station. “The Delhi Police had planted news across sections of the media that it was not going to provide security to Kejriwal during his visit to Punjab,” AAP said in a statement. “The events of this morning must be seen in the context of the Delhi Police’s open declaration that the CM would be unprotected. Is the Delhi Police leaking out sensitive information regarding the whereabouts of the CM to mischievous and potentially dangerous elements? How did BJP activists know minute details of Kejriwal’s itinerary and why did the Delhi Police officials behave like mute spectators? There appears to be collusion between the Delhi Police and BJP to expose the CM to attacks.”